Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Day 333

It's the 333rd day of this year.

It's all quiet and calm, I have the house all to myself.
The TV is off, the Christmas music is playing and the Christmas tree and all my candles are lit.
I'm curled up on the sofa and have just enjoyed a small slice of the fantastic "Saffranskladdkaka" I baked earlier today.
It's pure bliss.


Happy inside

"Mummy, when we talk about Christmas, it makes me feel all happy feelings inside!"


Monday, 28 November 2011

Oh Tannenbaum!

As much as I would like the kids to have the same memories of Christmas as I do (cold, snow, darkness, Advent lights in every window etc) - theirs will be different.

I have since long accepted that, and I'm also really proud that we as a family have been able to create our own traditions as the multi-national and multi-cultural little unit we are.
This is our 5th Christmas here in the jungle, and the kids now know what it's all about, and anticipate what's coming next and are super excited about all the different steps in the preparations for Christmas.

Today we put the Christmas tree up, and it was a lovely time! Lucas and Linnea just loved looking at all the ornaments, and helping me put them on the tree. Once it was done, they both sighed and said how beautiful everything looks now!

I love our house, and I love how all my ornaments and little Santas have their own place. Most of them go back to the same spots year after year, just like at my parents house. I do have new additions every year, but I rarely switch things around too much, it's part of the tradition to me.

And even though it's hot outside, at least it goes dark at about 6pm, so I can light all my candles, turn on my 'Adventsstakar' and 'Adventsstjärnor' and pretend it's cold and snowy..!

Saint ... where?!?

Picked up a letter at the post office today. Today is the 28th of November.

This letter had been sent from the US to ... St Kitts by mistake. St Kitts?!? I had to google to find out where that even is! (West Indies).

On the 3rd of October, it had passed through there. October.

How can it take two months for a letter to make it's way to Asia from the West Indies - did it take eight extra laps around the globe or something..?

I'm also wondering - in what world does BRUNEI look like ST KITTS? (We often have letters missent to Bahrain, Dubai, Singapore (well I guess it's close) and even Dar es Salaam in Tanzania..., but at least that sounds or looks a bit the same!)

Jeez. I guess I should be happy it made it here at all!

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Christmas feelings

"It is Christmas in the heart that puts Christmas in the air"!

We have decorated our house (and the blog!) today since it's the first of Advent. The countdown has started, love it!

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Sparse Taupo reports

Last year we got lots and lots of reports from the gang down in Taupo from the whole week leading up to the race, and the race itself of course.
This year the reports have been a lot more... sporadic...

Actually, all we've got has been short texts about the cold (?) weather, the rain, the achy knees, the saddle sore etc...
The group of riders was a bit decimated this year too, since the other boys here from Brunei couldn't get down because of the suspended AKL route; Mike had a bad bike accident last week that left him with a few fractures on his wrist and eye socket and finally Granddad hasn't been able to train because of changing jobs.
So it was down to only Will and Nathan.

Anyway - today was Race Day! Here are some of Granddads pictures:

Time this year: 5h14. A great effort considering the gusting wind and tough conditions. Well done boys!

Second hand surprises

Back in March, I organized a 'Bring&Buy' event - sort of a "clothes swop thing" where lots of people could sell their unwanted clothes to lots of other people who got new wardrobes for cheap!

It was such a success, especially for the "customers" who were happy to be able to shop for near-to-new clothes from well-known brands. We don't have much opportunity to shop here in Brunei you see, and the few clothes shops there are here often don't cater for bigger sizes f.e.
Of course, it was also a bonus for the sellers to make a few dollars, but the main thing that people seemed to like with it was that it was great with something happening, an event that could offer something for everybody.

So, Misuzu and I decided to do it again!
This week my house transformed once again into a little shop. We had learned a few things from last time, so it was new and improved!
We changed the labeling system for example, to individual numbers for each item; we used my iPad and a Numbers sheet to keep track of each seller's sales and finally we remembered the advantage of attaching the labels to the clothes rather than the hangers...

Once again it was a great couple of days! Lots of happy "customers" got some new clothes, shoes and bags and all the sellers made some profit.
We have now finally packed everything away again, and my house is back to normal.

Some of the sellers then donated all or some of their remaining items to charity, so it was really a win-win-win event this time!

Friday, 25 November 2011

And so it is Christmas...

Another year, another Christmas Party at the Yacht Club, and once again I had to "enjoy" it all on my own...

I'm not a big fan really of these big events at the Yacht Club. They are nice and well organized yes, but I participate for the kids' sake only, they love it! It's too many people and too chaotic for me...
But, at least, it is becoming easier and easier, now that they are big enough to look after themselves. I don't have to worry they will drown or walk off the premises or anything, plus they will find me when they need something, I can sit back and relax!

Just like last year there was lots of games. Our kids preferred to just watch this time though:

The obligatory face painting:

Christmas pinata:

Doing some colouring-in while waiting for Santa:

It was a bit of a wait, but finally someone spotted something red on a boat out by the Spit:

Yup - it was Santa alright!

Then some more waiting, and year group by year group they got to go into the library and meet Santa, and get their present.

"What do you think Elf, do we have enough gifts for all the children?!"

And before going home we enjoyed one of the JIS choirs who sang us Christmas carols; and even though it was in 28 degrees, on a beach - it definitely ignited the warm and fuzzy Christmas feeling inside!

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Monday, 21 November 2011

Let it snow, let it snow

While the blogs back home are telling about a cold Sweden, but with no snow so far, I'm dreaming a bit about snowy and chilly and could do with just a little bit of winter right about now in time for Advent. Just a week or two though...

We did have a taste of it the other day though going out for dinner to our favourite Japanese restaurant, where apparently they thought it was about time to bring out the Christmas CD... Our whole meal was accompanied by cheerful tunes like "Let it snow", "Deck the halls", "Chestnuts roasting on an open fire" etc; and the air conditioning was on high so it was really cold in the restaurant.

A bit surreal I must say, to have Christmas songs humming in your head when you step out to the same old +32-33C afterwards...

In the meantime...

While we have been busy swimming at the Yacht Club and running hash in the jungle over the weekend, Nathan went for his first NZ training ride (for the Around the Lake race) back home in Taupo on Sunday.

Looks like nice weather but apparently it's rather windy, and therefor rather chilly! Ha ha, I guess anything would be when you are used to +30C and more!

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Kids Christmas Hash

Today was Kids Hash, one of the more popular ones of the year - the Christmas Run. A decorated tent, red santa hats everywhere and Christmas music on full blow; we do what we can to create atmosphere here in the jungle!
The kids got their Christmas presents from the Hash, this year a little red flashlight with the JH3 logo on it. I'm sure that will come in handy during our power cuts!
They also got some JH3 fake tattoos:

The run today was nearly as muddy as the Xmas run last year. We also had to do two fairly high log crossings, a little bit nerve wracking, but the kids did great.

The queue to see Santa wasn't that long this year, or maybe it was because we got out quite late, or because everything was happening at once instead of one thing at a time..? Anyhow...

We got to see Santa! He was really chatty, and he gave the kids some nice biscuits. Everybody happy.

So, that kicked off the Christmas celebrations for this year. On Friday it's the yearly Christmas Party at the Yacht Club - and only five more weeks until Christmas!

A picture paints a thousand words

We went straight from International Week at school to Book Week last week, busy, busy! The theme for this year was "A picture paints a thousand words", and Book Week this year concentrated on visual literacy and visual techniques to enhance the students' understanding on literature. The school had invited two authors to come, Sonia Leong (a manga illustrator) for the older children, and Liz Million - for the Junior School.

It was lovely to have an author this time, that was actually age appropriate for our kids! Well, turned out she charmed the whole of Junior School - she did a special assembly on Wednesday morning, and after that the kids were in awe and could talk of nothing but Ms Million for the rest of the week!
Us parents were lucky enough to get invited along to the session she had with the Year 1s on Thursday morning. It was great fun, we all loved it both children and adults. Not only is she a very talented lady, but also very entertaining!

We got to listen to how a book is made, how the ideas start about the illustrations and about the whole work process.

She taught us how to draw a naughty lion:

She also told us about her book "The not-so-silly sausage", that we now have to buy, of course! The kids couldn't stop giggling when she read it out in the Spanish version!

We did buy the only book she had for sale, "Digger", for both kids... Well, she signed them, and it's nice for them to have their own book by each author that visits JIS. They will have a lovely collection in a few years time!

Here's Linnea with Liz Million:

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Founders Day 2011 - Walk the Hash

Here we go again, another year of hashing accomplished and last night it was time for our annual fiesta - Founders Day.
After a short but nice little run, just up and down one (big!) hill, and a quick shower and change, we all turned in to characters from musicals to celebrate the end of this hash year at the Kota Batu Yacht Club.

Tamsin and I had got the same idea, "Snap!":

And here's me and another cool "cat", Tanya:

Mandie and Karen were rocking us:

Kim, or "Dolly" from 9-5:

The Miss Saigon girls:

Peace-out-Debra, and Yvette/Maria:

The Cabaret people (oh, and Rizzo from Grease!):

Loosely interpreting the Rocky Horror Show:

Anna and I won an award, for the "Shortest Run" - or maybe it should've been "The run that never was...", ha ha!

There was entertainment provided from Los Tres Caballeros...

... from the Chinese contingent who danced and performed a traditional song, helped by Mani Mouse with the translation...

... and also from two of the Sound of Music-girls, who sang their own version of a famous SoM-song, now called "My favourite HASH things"!

The Hashit got passed on from Smurf to Never Wrong -

- and finally we said a big thank you to the old committe, and are now looking forward to a new, fresh year of hashing!

If you are curious about other Founders Days, you can see me "Hashing in the year 2100" here, "Mardi Gras Hashing" here and finally "Hashing in the wild, wild west" here!
Now I can add last nights "Musical Hashing" to that list!